Monday, January 12, 2009

Mothers and daughters, husbands and wives

When do mothers stop saying the wrong thing? When do daughters stop taking offence at innocuous remarks? When do mothers stop doing the same? Is it all mothers and daughters or just some?

I always thought there was a middle child syndrome - you know, the one who isn't the oldest and yet has to be an older sister (no experience with middle boys myself so have to speak of girls)! Yet now I have a feeling that my own mother is having digs at me in a very subtle way. She describes people by their 'thinness' - and I know that she has hated the fact that I turned from a thin person into a slightly overweight one. It's as if I let her down somehow. Did I really let her down by not remaining 'thin'? Why does she, like so many magazines, value the ability to remain thin so highly? I eat healthy food, I try to walk as much as I can, I hope that I'm healthy and fit enough. I think I'm a good daughter. Why isn't that enough? Or is it all in my head?

My own daughters who are slim themselves are always saying that they need to be slim. "Have you looked lately?" I should say, but I don't want to hurt feelings, and repeatedly saying you are not fat, you look lovely etc seem to only add fuel to the 'I'm fat' fire.

Do slim people get jobs before those of us who carry a bit more weight? Are slim people more intelligent? Do slim people always get what they want? Or do they not even think they are slim in the first place? Perhaps they lack in self-esteem and need something to carry them through life - others saying how good they look or how slim they are. I would love to hear someone say to me that I had lost weight - I'm sure I'd feel better about myself. Why is this the case, when I know that I'm not very overweight and I have a fairly healthy lifestyle? What more can I do? And am I obsessing about the very thing that my mother and daughters obsess about, and if so, how is it possible to stop?????

I remember about 12 years ago (when I had put on quite a bit of weight by being too sedentary and eating for comfort) on my husband's birthday we decided to go down to the beach and have lunch together. I had a meeting to go to first and just before we parted he said, "you look like a whale." I said nothing, but walked off to my meeting - going a bit earlier and into the toilet of a cafe checking myself in the mirror. I didn't think I looked that bad - I took out the shoulder pads (fashionable then) and felt better. To this day I have never forgotten the feelings of absolute hurt I felt by that comment (not meant in jest). What began as a lovely day out very soon turned into a day of wondering why I looked so ugly and fat.

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